Marquette vs. Rice Preview

Eric Titze of previews Marquette's first game of the '05-'06 season against the Rice Owls in the 44th annual Pepsi Blue & Gold Classic

In the opening round of the 2005 Pepsi Blue and Gold Classic the Marquette Golden Eagles match up against the Rice Owls. Marquette holds the 2-1 advantage in the previous meeting between these schools, the last in 1988 that ended in a 16-point win for the Warriors.

Marquette has won their last 13 games of the Pepsi Blue and Gold Classic and will be going for their 7th straight title in this, the tournaments 44th year. Going into Friday night's game Marquette holds a 41-8 record against non-conference opponents and have won 36 of the last 37 non-conference games held in the Bradley Center.

Rice, formerly of the WAC in which they went 12-6 last season, enters this season as a new member of C-USA, the conference of which Marquette had been a member for the last 10 years before moving to the Big East this season. The Owls are led by head coach Willis Wilson who, in his 12th season at Rice, has accumulated 169 wins.

Rice has won 60 games in the last three seasons; the second most ever in school history since the 1940, '41, and '42 teams won 65 games. The Owls earned a trip to the NIT last season, losing to the first round to Missouri State. This marked the first time that the Owls played in back-to-back post-season tournaments for the first time 62 years. The 1942 and 1943 Owl basketball teams participated in the NCAA and NIT tournaments respectively.

In the other half the bracket of the Blue and Gold Pepsi Classic, Winthrop squares off with IUPUI at 5:30 this evening. The consolation game will be held Saturday at 5:30 p.m. with the championship immediately following at 8:00 p.m.

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